Orlando Bloom will star as Killer Joe in the West End

West End shows you have to see this summer

By Carly-Ann Clements, Published April 26, 2018

Sitting in the garden soaking in the sun is all well and good, but with so many amazing shows opening from now until October, you’ll kick yourself for missing some of the best theatre of the year in favour of lazy summer nights outside. Here are a handful of the top West End shows to see over the next six months.

The Oscar Wilde season

The Importance Of Being Earnest at Vaudeville Theatre London

To celebrate the incredible work of Oscar Wilde, Classic Spring is putting on a year-long schedule of his plays.

From 20 April – 14 July, you can see father and son duo Edward and Freddie Fox star in An Ideal Husband – a comedy that depicts what happens when you bring politics into your household.

Watch as government minister Sir Robert Chiltern’s smooth ascent to the top is scuppered when Mrs Cheveley appears in London with damning proof of his previous financial chicanery.

From 20 July – 20 October, one of the world’s funniest and most beloved plays, The Importance Of Being Earnest, will be staged for your enjoyment.

In the classic play, a case of mistaken identities lead Jack, Algy, Gwendolyn and Cecily to discover how complicated love can be, while Lady Bracknell keeps a baleful eye on the mayhem of manners.

To buy tickets, visit the An Ideal Husband and The Importance Of Being Earnest pages.

Mood Music

Mood Music at The Old VicEvery little boy and girl dreams of being a rock star. But when you’re an adult, those dreams don’t match up with reality. In multi-Olivier Award-winner Joe Penhall’s new play, Mood Music, the psychological demands of working in the music industry are explored.

Set in an expensive recording studio, a young songwriter, her producer, their lawyers, and their psychotherapists go to battle over who owns a hit song.

Joe’s world premiere of Mood Music follow his Olivier-winning shows Blue/Orange and Sunny Afternoon. It’s also hot off the heels of his Netflix series, Mindhunter.

Starring Seána Kerslake and Ben Chaplin, this psychological thriller is going to be a hit.

Mood Music is playing at The Old Vic from 21 April – 16 June 2018. Book tickets, here.

Chess

Tim Howar, Michael Ball and Cedric Neal in Chess (Photo: Brinkhoff/Mogenburg)

When it comes to musical inspiration, a game of chess is probably fairly low on the list for most. But, thankfully, ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus aren’t most people. With Tim Rice, the pair wrote Chess – a significant and beloved musical that has been wowing audiences for over 30 years.

Set against the background of the Cold War, a chess championship between two of the world’s greatest players – one American and one Russian – is in risk of being manipulated for political ends. While the pair battle for the title, their lives are thrown into further confusion by a Hungarian refugee, a remarkable woman who becomes the centre of their emotional triangle.

Starring Michael Ball, Alexandra Burke, Cedric Neal, Tim Howar and Cassidy Janson, Chess is definitely a show you have to check, mate.

Chess is playing at London Coliseum from 26 April – 2 June 2018. Book tickets, here.

Peter PanPeter Pan at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

With the warm weather comes open-air theatre. And Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre has an absolute treat with the revival of the 2015 Olivier Award-nominated production, Peter Pan.

Set against the backdrop of the First World War, the wounded soldiers use their imaginations to escape the horrors they’ve witnessed. But behind the fantasies of the lagoons and pirate ships of Never Land, allegories of the war are ever present.

The magical show won the hearts of the young, the old and the critical during its previous run. So if you missed you last time, make sure you don’t now.

Peter Pan is playing at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre from 17 May – 15 June 2018. Book tickets, here.

If al fresco theatre-watching is going to be your thing this summer, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre has a whole season of fun to be had. Along with Peter Pan, you can see As You Like It and Little Shop Of Horrors.

ConsentAdam James, Thusitha Jayasundera, Nina Raine, Claudie Blakley, Stephen Campbell Moore, Clare Foster, Lee Ingleby, Roger Michell and Heather Craney in Consent (Photo: Matt Crockett)

Following a sold-out run at National Theatre, Nina Raine’s Consent will have a strictly limited run at Harold Pinter Theatre.

Asking the questions: why is justice blind? Is she impartial? Or is she blinkered? A group of friends take opposing views a legal case which includes a key witness whose life seems a world away from theirs. At home, their own lives begin to unravel as every version of the truth is challenged.

This powerful, painful and funny tragi-comedy explores themes of justice, consent, marriage and modern parenthood – themes which resound strikingly today.

Consent is playing at Harold Pinter Theatre from 18 May – 11 August 2018. Book tickets, here.

Killer JoeOrlando Bloom will star as Killer Joe in the West End

Cop a load of this! A play about a police detective that’s a part-time contract killer played by Orlando Bloom. You probably don’t need more info than that, but we’re going to give it to you anyway.

Multi award-winning writer Tracy Letts’ blackly comic thriller Killer Joe is a tense tale about the Smith family, who is planning on killing their estranged matriarch so they can claim the insurance money. They hire Joe Cooper (Orlando), known as Killer Joe, to do the deed. While on the job he meets their innocent daughter and all the plans spiral out of control.

Killer Joe is playing at Trafalgar Studios from 18 May – 18 August 2018. Book tickets, here.

Tartuffe

George Blagden, Sebastian Roché and Olivia Ross will star in Tartuffe

In this fresh adaptation of Molière’s comedic masterpiece, Tartuffe, award-winning playwright Christopher Hampton transports events to present day LA. In the hopes of becoming Hollywood royalty, French media tycoon Orgon moves his family to the hills. With all things going well, his empire seems unstoppable. But when Orgon falls for the seductive spell of a radical American evangelist, Tartuffe.

See the Academy, BAFTA and Olivier Award-winners radical adaptation of the 1664 comedy during its strictly limited season.

Tartuffe is playing at Haymarket, Theatre Royal from 25 May – 28 July 2018. Book tickets, here.

The King And IRuthie Ann Miles and Kelli O'Hara in Lincoln Center Theater's production of The King And I (Photo: Paul Kolnik)

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic, The King And I, is opening in London this summer, and with it comes a dazzling cast of international superstars.

The multi award-winning production tells the story of relationship formed between the King of Siam and a British school teacher named Anna. Anna is brought to Siam to teach the king’s many wives and children in an attempt to modernise the country. But lines are blurred when a bitter conflict – and a burgeoning love – develops between them.

See Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe lead the cast as Anna and the King respectively. Joining them will be Ruthie Ann Miles, Dean John-Wilson, Na-Young Jeon, Takao Osawa, and Jon Chew.

The production won four Tony Awards during its run in 2015 so we’re expecting it to conquer the critics’ hearts as well as yours.

The King And I is playing at London Coliseum from 21 June – 29 September 2018. Book tickets, here.

We’re Going On A Bear Hunt

We're Going On A Bear Hunt at Shaftesbury Theatre (Photo: Lesley Cook)Summer is about family fun. Especially with those lovely (but pesky) summer holidays. Keep the little ones, and yourselves, entertained with the mischievous show, We’re Going On A Bear Hunt.

Music, laughter, rhymes, rhythms, puppetry, paint, water and mud – it can all be found in this exciting, fun-filled show that always delights all the family members.

Join the team of intrepid explorers – and their musical dog – as they go on an adventure. While searching for a bear, they encounter plenty of obstacles, including swishy swashy grass, the splishy splashy river and the oozy squelchy mud.

Packed full of silliness and joy, We’re Going On A Bear Hunt is the ideal way for youngsters to experience theatre for the first time.

We’re Going On A Bear Hunt is playing at Lyric Theatre from 4 July – 2 September 2018. There are selected relaxed and sign language interpreted performances. Book your tickets, here.

A Monster CallsA Monster Calls at The Old Vic

You’ve read the novel, you’ve seen the film, now be plunged into Patrick Ness’ piercing tale at The Old Vic.

The internationally-acclaimed story focuses on 13-year-old Conor and his mum. The pair have been coping fine since his dad moved to America, but things take a turn when she becomes very sick. Things take a turn when she doesn’t get better and Conor’s grandmother won’t stop interfering. But one night, something outside his window wakes him up. A monster has come walking and offers Conor his tales before challenging Conor to tell his own.

Directed by Sally Cookson, A Monster Calls will be a piercing and poignant tale staged in a totally unique way.

A Monster Calls is playing at The Old Vic from 7 July – 25 August 2018. Book tickets, here.

Sylvia

Sylvia at The Old Vic

100 years ago, the first women in Britain were granted to the right to vote. Sylvia combines dance, hip-hop, soul and funk to celebrate a prominent campaigner in the fight for equality, Sylvia Pankhurst.

Written by acclaimed choreographer Kate Prince and Priya Parmar, Sylvia tells the story of a fractured family at a momentous hour in British history shedding new light on the Suffragette movement.

Sylvia is playing at The Old Vic from 1 September – 22 September. Book tickets, here.

CompanyCompany at the Gielgud Theatre

People are queuing up side by side by side to get hands on tickets to this Stephen Sondheim classic. Starring Patti LuPone, Rosalie Craig and Mel Giedroyc, this new gender-swapping production of Company is going to be all theatre-goers will be talking about come September.

The musical comedy about life, love and marriage tells the story of Bobbi whose relationship status is questioned by all her friends at her 35th birthday party. Why isn’t she married? Why can’t she find the right man? Why doesn’t she settle down and have a family?

This is the first time the role of Bobby will be re-imagined as a woman, and seeing as it’s not had a West End revival since 1995, we cannot wait to see it.

Company is playing at Gielgud Theatre from 26 September – 22 December 2018. Book tickets, here.

If none of those tickled your fancy, then there is plenty more to see. Explore other shows on the West End, here.

a monster calls chess company consent killer joe mood music peter pan the king and i we're going on a bear hunt